Herbicide Shortage – How To Plan For The 2022 Growing Season

There is a lot of speculation about a herbicide shortage for the 2022 growing season, which will impact weed management decisions starting with fall applications, write Purdue Extension Specialists Bill Johnson, Marcelo Zimmer, and Bryan Young. The two main active ingredients that we’re hearing about right now are glyphosate (Roundup, others) and glufosinate (Liberty, others), both associated with an increase in cost. There will likely be limited supplies of other pesticide active ingredients as well, but in the short term, a shortage of these two active ingredients poses some major challenges for corn and soybean production.

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The purpose of this article is to discuss ways to minimize the impact of herbicide shortage on corn and soybean production in the Midwest. As you search for alternatives to these two herbicides you may have already determined that weed control guides produced by University Extension and Industry will become your most important tool for planning your herbicide purchases for many years to come. Access the Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

First, what is causing the shortage? There are several different factors which are impacting this issue. In no particular order, the reasons for the herbicide shortage include a decline in number of laborers to unload tanker ships at gulf ports, lack of truck transportation from the ports to get the ingredients to U.S. formulation plants or formulated products to the retailers, reduced supplies of some of the inert ingredients of the formulation, shortages of materials to make containers and packaging, and Hurricane Ida that damaged a glyphosate production plant in Luling, LA.

Regardless of the cause, it is also important to consider herbicide costs. We are hearing that glyphosate prices will be in excess of $80/gallon. So, even if there is not a shortage, you should plan your weed control strategies for the next growing season to accommodate a limited availability because of supply or price of these two active ingredients.

It is important to point out that the demand for glyphosate will be considerably less in a conventional till system then in a no-till system. Glyphosate is arguably the most important herbicide that facilitates no-till crop production. It’s even more important in systems where cover crops are used and need to be terminated before corn or soybean planting. Therefore, one simple way to reduce reliance on glyphosate is to simply go back to using tillage for fall and early spring weed control. This practice will be very effective for controlling the weeds emerged at the time of tillage, but some farm operations may not be set up for the extra equipment, labor, and fuel needed to do this on a widespread basis. In addition, replacing burndown herbicides with tillage threatens soil conservation practices. Glufosinate demand, on the other hand, will not be impacted as much by choice of tillage system since we don’t use glufosinate in our fall or spring burndown application, and not much is used in corn. There is some glufosinate used in delayed burndown situations. However, we mostly use glufosinate postemergence in soybeans after the crop and summer annual weeds have emerged.

Read more at Purdue Extension.

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